Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Good Friday

On Good Friday 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head. The assassination came five days after the surrender at Appomattox and the effective collapse of Southern resistance, and the two events have ever since shaped the narrative of American history. In her fascinating new book, Appomattox, Elizabeth Varon disputes the long-held myth that “Grant’s magnanimity” and “Lee’s stoic resignation” initiated “a process of national healing,” arguing instead that the two men interpreted the peace totally differently. For Grant the victory was one of “right over wrong,” and he looked forward to a transformed and prosperous nation. For Lee the defeat was one of “might over right,” and he sought a restoration, without slavery, of the old patrician order. Tragically, Lincoln’s murder helped ensure that Lee’s vision prevailed. We see it in depictions of Grant, “the butcher,” and of Sherman sowing carnage from Atlanta to the sea; of the “Birth of a Nation’s” ruthless Reconstruction when the Klan arose to restore honor and order to a lawless South; of greedy carpetbaggers deflowering a helpless land; of an age of gentility “Gone With the Wind.” And so, despite the Union’s overwhelming victory and the generous terms of the peace, the restoration of the old order – also known as Jim Crow – brutally repressed those whom the war had just emancipated. It took another century for the Civil Rights and Voting acts to address those wrongs – and 50 years more for the Roberts Court to roll them back.

Gas Man Fights "Unbearable" Erection in North Texas Town

Leading from the Rear